Only a week after I got back from my first ever trip to Wales, I found myself there again! This time I was invited by Secret Adventures to come along to their Wild Swimming Weekend as the official photographer. I took the train to London to meet Madoc who created Secret Adventures – a company that organises exciting trips and gatherings for adventure seeking Londoners (and beyond) in order to raise money to fund similar adventures for children.
We drove to Anglesey where we met Natasha Brooks, a local artist who had teamed up with Madoc for this special swimming adventure, who kindly welcomed us into her home for the first night. Natasha loves wild swimming in the mountains of Wales and the along coastline. Watch her memorising video ‘Blue Hue’ where she glides though the wintery waters of Snowdonia.
That night we camped in her garden on what must have been the windiest evening I have ever experienced! We set up our tents and I got to try out my new Vango Blade 200 for the first time. We sat in Natasha’s hand built garden cabin as everyone arrived, warming ourselves by the fire and getting to know one another, as most people attending were complete strangers.
After a very chilly nights sleep which left me googling 5 season sleeping bags at 4am and wishing they were mine, I awoke and stumbled into Natasha’s kitchen for a much needed cup of tea.
After a quick breakfast, we packed up our things and got ready to start our hike. It was a beautiful sunny day but still ridiculously windy, but at least I was finally getting to see the beauty of Anglesey in stark contrast to that rainy drive a week before on my Snowdonia trip. We arrived at our starting point and hiked for the rest of the day, stopping off every now and again for a dip in the sea.
In the afternoon we arrived at our wild camp spot for the night, at an old abandoned brickworks along the coastal path which came dramatically into view. We climbed down to it through thick bushes of gorse feeling as though we were something out of a famous five novel. We set up camp and excitedly explored our home for the night. I purposely pitched my tent so that when I woke up in the morning the first thing I saw would be the ocean. This felt very important, I wanted to wake up, look outside and feel like I was alone with the sea.
After a quick dip we started a campfire and cooked a coconut curry – the best campfire food I have ever had! We shared stories over dinner, danced with hula hoops, toasted marshmallows and played games until it got dark. Ali strummed the guitar and Natasha danced with flames on chains around us in the dark which was mesmerising. I snuck around taking photographs of everyone and climbing up the rocks to get a better view. It was quite a magical feeling place with a matching atmosphere. I watched the moon rise over the sea and eventually went to bed wearing every layer I had and anyone else’s I could borrow, having learned my lesson the night before.
After a slightly cosier nights sleep, I was one of the first to wake, so I wandered out into the sunshine and climbed the rock. When everyone had awoken, we ate a breakfast of fried egg sandwiches and then packed up again ready to leave our little brickwork campsite and hike to the pub for lunch.
Before we left though we had to have another swim in the bay next to camp. It’s amazing how quickly strangers get used to stripping down to their bathers together – some people even swam in the nuddy!
The day turned out to be a scorcher, giving us sun drenched views of the coastline. The sparkling blue sea was stunning to look at as we hiked along the coast path, I could never tire of it.
Cider in the sun when we got to the pub was the perfect ending to a wonderful weekend. It was tiring, it was cold but I can look back at it as one of the best things I’ve ever done. Madoc dropped me off at St Pancras International and I got the train home with a dirty face, salty hair and a contented heart.